The Art and Innovation of German Heavy Metal

Fast As A Shark Restless and Wild

A typically understated photo of a German eighties Heavy Metal band…

German Heavy Metal…..

Let’s do something different for a change. The wind of change is so important. Let me perform a magic trick.

Black out your mind for a moment…

Now think of a German heavy rock band. Any German rock band. The first one that stings to mind…

Scorpions, right?

See what I did there?

Of course you did. Black out your mind? Wind of change…stings to mind… I’m like Derren Brown, me.

To be fair, If you ask most people to name a German rock band from the eighties, their first answer would almost certainly be Scorpions, with or without the blindingly obvious attempt at Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Assuming they could name one. (You could have had Helloween, Warlock, Rammstein, er, um…) And yet this would be most unfair. Germany has a very vibrant metal scene. Apparently. Which some people might say it thoroughly deserves. However, instead of rummaging through The Scorpion’s moustaches, let’s talk about the second most famous German Metal band. Let’s talk about Accept.

This was a band who, in 1982 released one of the most impressive and furious metal songs of all time in Fast As A Shark – the opening track to classic metal album Restless and Wild. What a tune this is! One of the earliest examples of speed metal – as a sixteen year old, I don’t think I had heard anything quite like this song.

At a time when Styx and Foreigner were thrilling the rockers of America (thrilling them to sleep) with their Adult Orientated Rock, Accept were vandalising an old German folk song with a scratch and a scream before letting off some chainsaw guitars and reminding the Adults what they were missing.

There were some more amusing moments also. In 1984 they released a song called London Leather Boys in homage to their leather clad London heavy metal fan base who supported the band back when they didn’t have two Deutschmarks to scrape together. Amusingly, they failed to appreciate that there might be more than one interpretation of what demographic London’s Leather Boys might constitute – prompting one of the band to say, in an exasperated manner – “We are not a gay band!” after the umpteenth question about the song’s meaning (which was preceded on the album by dubiously titled title-track Balls To The Wall). All very amusing in the very macho (and pre-Rob Halford’s coming out) eighties Heavy Metal world.

I got my parents to buy me live EP Kaizoku Ban for Christmas one year – which meant Live Bootleg in Japanese. I didn’t realise it had a song on it called Screaming For A Lovebite – which is an odd title for a song by anyone’s standards. I can only guess how bemused my parents were by this as they gave it to their fifteen year old son on Christmas Day. (Previous year’s present: some magic tricks). It must have seemed that they were witnessing their son’s angel of innocence fluttering away in front of their eyes.

One of the things I liked to do with my friends at the time was to call the Essex Radio Rock show on a Thursday evening and ask them to play records. We’d all call multiple times, under ridiculous pseudonyms putting on fake accents and voices in order to pretend to be different people and improve our chances of winning prizes. They weren’t fooled for a moment, probably because hardly anyone else called in. Another clue would be that I would almost always request Accept at that time – Monster Man from the Russian Roulette album was a particular favourite. We never won…and they never played Accept – they always played interminable and obscure seventies stuff like Camel or Uriah Heep – of little interest to the Glam Rock and Thrash Metal generation, but you’d listen anyway just in case.

Diminutive barrel chested lead singer Udo Dirkschneider went solo after the Russian Roulette album releasing the Animal House LP under the imaginatively titled band name of Udo. It was written by his former band, in what was one of the least acrimonious splits in rock history. As always he sounded like he had been gargling some particularly coursely-ground glass, but it wasn’t the same.

But aside from Fast As A Shark, which most of the Heavy Metal Cognoscenti will be aware of, there was another song by Accept which summed up all the dubious joys of What’s Great About Heavy Metal in five brief minutes. It lurked, un-loved, on the end of the Metal Heart album released in ’85, and has quite the most bludgeoning riff that you might have wished to hear in the mid-eighties.

It’s called Bound To Fail. Give it a listen, and banish all that Winds-of-Change nonsense from your mind. German heavy metal isn’t everyone’s cup of lapsang souchong, but when it’s as daft and as wild and as heavy as this? Who can resist?*

* Quite a few of you I suspect – but give it a whirl anyway…

Record #121 : Accept – Bound To Fail



Categories: Heavy Metal

Tags: , , , , , , ,

19 replies

  1. I enjoyed this. I grew up with a couple German kids and for them it was all Scorpions, Scorpions, Scorpions. And Milli Vanilli.

    I have two albums by Accept and I’ll have to give both another listen. I haven’t played them in years. Thanks for the reminder. That Japanese EP of yours sounds really slick, please tell me you still have it!

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    • Scorpions and Milli Vanilli – not immediately obvious bedfellows. And I thought Milli Vanilli were Dutch…
      The live EP was Japanese only because that’s where it was recorded – it was released worldwide and one track ended up on the Hear n Aid charity album. And no – I don’t still have it. I traded in a lot of vinyl to pay for my Les Paul, after I hadn’t used my record player for over a decade. Two years ago I bought another record player…and I’m doing what I can not to just re-purchase all my old records.

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  2. I picked up Restless and Wild in A small German village shop whilst on the school German exchange. I was looking for it too, and certainly didn’t expect to find it in this tiny newsagent type establishment, that just happened to have a very small spinning rack of records. It was only available on very expensive import in England, and when it was finally released, it had a different cover. Great album certainly whet my appetite for something harder, which turned up later that year in the form of Kill ’em All.

    I thought the Break The Chain EP Udo did with Raven was great too, featuring a mad cover of Born to be Wild.

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  3. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. ‘Fast as a Shark’ – an absolute stormer. Balls to the Wall – possibly their finest album. ‘Bound to Fail’ – haven’t heard this for years (not forgetting ‘Metal Heart’ itself … and the “classical music is pure heavy metal” interview quote that accompanied it. Or did they say that “heavy metal is pure classical music”? Can’t remember which way round they put it now.

    Interesting reference to Metallica from Simon too. It was hearing ‘Fast as a Shark’ and ‘Seek and Destroy’ back to back on a Radio Wales radio show that encouraged me to listen properly to Metallica (who either just had, or were just about to put out ‘Ride The Lightening’). Metal up your ass, eh boys.

    Oh, but one minor gripe … Uriah Heep of no interest to the Maiden generation. I beg to differ. Heep had something of a resurgence with ‘Abominog’, the excellent ‘Head First’ and ‘Equator’. My friends and I queued in anticipation the day the Number of the Beast was released, insisted on playing any new friends we made ‘Fast as a Shark’ and happily shared Uriah Heep tapes and records, back as far as ‘Gypsy’ (you want bludgeoning riffs and vocal screams?) and ‘July Morning’. (Plenty in the Heep back catalogue that’s well worth exploring.) Camel? Well, you might be right there!

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    • Have to agree with Maiden and Heep as there are definitely many fans of both. As a Tull fan, I note that Ian Anderson has guested with Heep and has performed with Bruce Dickinson. Some of Uriah Heep’s stuff is very heavy metal. By the way, I am seeing Heep on 9 December (and Maiden next year).

      Of course, some of the Scorpions’s stuff is also very heavy metal. Most of it, in fact.

      Now, where exactly is the line between hard rock and heavy metal? Bon Jovi is hard rock (among other things), Slayer is heavy metal, but what about the Scorpions, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath?

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    • Yes – I have mentioned Uriah Heep before and been told in no uncertain terms how great they were. All I can say is: I have never heard an album of theirs and they always seemed to be an old band rather than a new band. Unfair of me – but reflects when I grew up. If I had been three years older they might have been my favourite band.

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      • It was the assertion that Heep are of no interest to the Maiden generation I was contesting. (Regardless of whether they are great or not.) By “Maiden generation” I assumed you meant “NWOBHM generation”. Factually speaking I know lots of Maiden fans who do have an interest in Uriah Heep. It’s always worth checking out a band if you’re going to hame check them. There’s doubtless tons of Heep on YouTube. The tracks I mention above (‘Gypsy’ and ‘July Morning’) are not bad places to start. Worth noting too that Heep are still going strong – with recent albums picking up some impressive reviews.

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      • I bow to your knowledge. Thanks for putting me straight. My time was five years after the outbreak of the NWOBHM, so I think that accounts for the difference in views.

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  4. Impressive knowledge! Must admit when I think of Germany in music I think of Kraftwerk. And Bowie taking inspiration from Berlin. But I did quite like Winds of Change! The clips in your post sound like Judas Priest meets Rainbow to me, with the vocal a bit like Bon Scott from AC/DC. None of which is bad.

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  5. Great post, and don’t write off the current version of Accept. Their last two albums Blood of the Nations and Stalingrad are heavy metal gold. Have seen them twice in concert over recent years and both times had some of the most fun I’ve had at any show ever. The (now older) boys still rock and still smile!

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  6. Accept was always under rated musically. I agree Uriah Heep always seemed like an old burn out band

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